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Apr 15, 2011 11:34 AM

Bizarre Foods: Chengdu

I was a fan of Bizzare foods when it first came out, then stopped watching as it started focusing on the 'gross out' factor instead of legitimately tasty, if somewhat offbeat, international food.

I saw a promo clip for the Chengu show calling Chengdu a paradise for hot food lovers, so I decided to give it a shot again, as I'm a huge chile-head. I was pleasantly surprised, it looks like AZ and Bizarre Foods might be getting its groove back.

I've never thought about visiting China before, but Chengdu seems like a pretty cool place, and all of the food looked incredible (save for the rabbit head, that one was a bit extreme for me, but since it's apparently 'girl food' in China, I guess I'm OK). Now I'm actually thinking about adding China, and Chengdu specifically, to my list of places to visit when time and money permit.

What were your thoughts on the episode? Anyone have experience with authentic sichaun cuisine similar to what was showcased? Down here in SW Florida the Chinese restaurants are pretty much of the super-Americanized variety, but I bet in NYC or other big cities there might be something approaching what was on the show.

For anyone who didn't see it, here is a clp:

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  1. I liked it a lot. That Chef Yu's place looked amazing.

    1. I thought it always focused on the 'gross out' factor, even in the original Asian pilot show.

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        I thought so too. I think they've toned that down a bit as time has gone on, to be more of an actual travelogue type of show than a sideshow. I used to hate watching it, but now I don't mind when it's on and sometimes will actually go out of my way to watch, like this ep.

      2. I would suggest trying to visit some authentic Sichuan restaurants before you pack your bags. Not sure if that's possible where you live. Real Sichuan cuisine is really really really spicy. A lot of people who think they can handle spicy foods still get their stomachs destroyed. And it's hard to describe the mouth-numbing sensation that occurs from Sichuan peppercorns to someone who's never tried it. I can see how some people might not enjoy it.

        Of course they have non-spicy dishes there as well, but I don't think a Chengdu trip would be worth it if you have to pick and choose non-spicy dishes.

        As for the show itself, it's definitely improved through the years. I disliked the show in the beginning not because of the gross foods, but the way AZ would spit stuff out in what I think is a rather disrespectful manner. AZ still eats weird foods, but he's a vet now and seems to enjoy most everything.

        4 Replies
        1. re: huaqiao

          What besides durian has he spit out? Note he has tried that 3 times. In this Chengdu episode he had problems with a walnut product - and warned his hosts in advance about that.

          1. re: paulj

            Stinky tofu. He rarely spits things out and he eats more bugs than I would ever try. I also hate most brains.

            1. re: Worldwide Diner

              I know he had problems with stinky tofu in the Taiwan episode, but don't recall that he spit out, at least not in front of the restaurant owner. I also suspect that in most of the problem cases, the hosts are fully aware that non-natives have problems with the taste. It is well known that durian is banned in many public spaces in Singapore due to the smell.

              In the Ecuador episode he couldn't handle the slimy freshly grated alovera. In that case he gave the glass to a passing Indian lady.

              As I mentioned in other threads, those offending segments could easily have been omitted from the final production. And what we do see is a fraction of the taped minutes, and even a smaller fraction of the time spent in each of those countries.

              We rarely see Andrew or anyone else pay for the food he eats. That does not mean that he eats for free, or that the hosts are not compensated in one way or other for their time on camera. Nor do we see the production crew eating the 'leftovers' - with the exception of some No Reservations behind the scenes episodes.

            2. re: paulj

              Besides the durian, there was the Peru episode where I think he spat out some slimy drink. Might have been some others, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

              And then there were instances where he wouldn't spit it out, but would make a super grossed out face with the cook standing right there next to him.

              I just found it a bit rude and disrespectful of local customs.